ANC President Oliver Tambo addresses a crowd outside South Africa House in Trafalgar Square

Reactions, the impact of the Trial

International reactions


ANC President Oliver Tambo addresses a crowd outside South Africa House in Trafalgar Square, London. This address occurred soon after the Rivonia Trial to maintain international pressure on Apartheid South Africa. Photograph from Sunday Times, supplied by STE Publishers

The media presence and coverage of the Rivonia Trial was significant. The Trial was watched by the world. As a result South Africa experienced pressure from the International Community during and after the trial. The United Nations issued statements to the South African government appealing against the death sentence, which many expected.

In addition, those listed as the co-conspirators during the Rivonia trial – namely Oliver Reginald Tambo, Joe Slovo, Ben Turok, Duma Nokwe, Joe Modise, Gertrude Shope, Jack Hodgson and others – were in hiding or in exile. Many of them helped to raise funds for the accused and organised many anti-Apartheid protests abroad.

In the aftermath of the trial the International Olympic Committee, FIFA, and other international sports bodies began terminating South Africa’s membership to these organisations. By the end of the 1970s, South Africa was largely isolated from participating in world sport. Cultural bodies around the world also terminated South Africa’s membership.

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